Sunday, September 17, 2017

Untitled Unblog Unpost #4

I was all ready to sit down and do some writing, when I discovered in my Twitter feed that (yesterday, 20170916) the Cleveland Indians officially became the American League Central Champions for 2017. That's the second year in a row.

So, instead of a comprehensive take on the latest from my brain box, I'm going to go watch some more baseball.

Because, you know, baseball!

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stuff My Brain Says #81

So far it seems like every GOP endeavor has fallen short or outright failed. And I think I know the reason why. It’s really quite simple. You see, nobody in the GOP really thought that Donald Trump was going to be President. They believed what the media said (that Hillary Clinton had over a 90% chance of winning the election - based on their polls).

The GOP had eight years to prepare things like Repeal and Replace and did nothing. Why? Because not only did they know they did not have an actual challenger to the Democrats, they knew that with Hillary Clinton as President, they would NEVER pass any of their endeavors. So they figured they had at least four more years (if not eight) to actually come up with anything of substance.

As a perfect example of procrastination, the GOP is living proof that there is no minute like the last minute.

© Emittravel 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017

You Really Don’t Want a Democracy

After the 2016 Presidential Election, many were upset that even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Donald Trump took the presidency by winning the Electoral College vote. Cries of “unfair”, and “he’s not my President” rang out; along with a push to eliminate the Electoral College because, after all, we are a Democracy.

Actually, no. We are not a Democracy. We are a Republic. Thus the Electoral College.

I bring this up because we have a current movement that is trying to rewrite history and remove anything deemed offensive from the public eye. Included are statues, flags, and even baseball team mascots.

As a Cleveland Indians fan, I’ve been pummeled by the anti-Wahoo folks for years. Even a recent article I read lumped the mascot with statues of Robert E. Lee as being equally racist. Hogwash!

First off, the Supreme Court has determined that trademarks cannot be considered “hate speech”. So as far as the law is concerned, Chief Wahoo is not hate speech.

Nevertheless, those few are screaming the loudest in hopes to bully a decision in their favor. Even the MLB Commissioner is pressuring the Cleveland Indians owners to remove the mascot.

Dear MLB Commissioner: IF you bow down to the pressure of a few and remove Chief Wahoo from the Cleveland Indians, we the fans will NOT go quietly into the night. Third-party vendors will start making a killing selling Chief Wahoo merchandise - which means the MLB gets none of that sweet, sweet cash.

I for one am getting a bit tired of a few hypocrites calling the shots.

Hypocrites? Yep. Hypocrites.

Go back and reread the first paragraph of this post.

The same folks calling us a democracy don’t really WANT a democracy. Why? Because the majority of people don’t want the mascots removed, or history to be rewritten. And IF we WERE a democracy, you crybabies would have to go away.

It’s called the First Amendment. If you like the idea of freedom of speech, then you have to accept that you will be exposed to speech you disagree with. That gives you a choice: You can either move to a country that does not respect the freedom of speech - which would eliminate you hearing anything that might offend you, or you can go ahead and get thicker skin.

As far as whether or not to remove statues, flags, mascots, or whatever, I direct you to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up.” (ascribed to Chesterton by John F. Kennedy).

Do you honestly believe that the people who erected a statue (that includes designing, creating, paying for, and authorizing it) did it BECAUSE they were racist?

"Let's put up a statue to show the world how racist we are. Good idea, huh? All in favor?"

"Aye!"

That’s hard to believe. Just because you are offended by CHANGING the original intention, does NOT give you the right to force the majority to accept your cries as truth.

So, before you “like” a tweet or Facebook post that encourages the removal of this or that, do a little research to find out WHY this or that was erected in the first place.

And if you don’t agree, go ahead, move to North Korea, and shout that statues of their dear leader are racist and hate speech. I’m sure they’ll praise your bravery.

(Idiots.)

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Is it Wrong to “Huddle Up”?

Continuing with the thoughts expressed in my last blog, recently the Cleveland Browns got into some hot water for kneeling during the National Anthem prior to the start of a preseason game. (As an aside, they only did that the one game. The most recent game, as of this writing, they all stood.)

There was a lot of social media angst over whether or not these guys were right in their actions. Some say that they were exercising their First Amendment rights and protesting President Trump’s lack of anger over the white supremacists’ and Nazis’ protest in Charlottesville. Others say that guys who make millions of dollars playing a game do not have the right to disrespect the flag.

As far as my opinion goes, my last blog pretty much summed it up. The First Amendment acknowledges your right to PEACEFULLY assemble. What those players were doing was just that.

There is no law stating that you have to stand and respect the flag during the National Anthem. There is no law. However, there IS custom.

First off, you are not standing BECAUSE of the National Anthem. You are standing because of the flag (which in itself is just a piece of cloth - it is what that piece of cloth represents that you are showing respect). Any patriotic song will do. And second, there is no law demanding that you stop and place your hand over your heart when you see the flag. Can you just imagine people stopping EVERY time they saw the flag?

What they did do was make a public protest in a non-violent manner. And THAT is absolutely their right under the First Amendment.

Now, if the NFL or the team's owners want to make an issue of it, they can. After all, the First Amendment only tells us what the government cannot do: “Congress shall make no law . . . “ There is nothing that stops a non-governmental institution from implementing ANY restrictions upon free speech.

And finally, I see nothing wrong with a sport that “takes a knee” at the end of their games taking one at the beginning.

That’s football for you.

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stuff My Brain Says #80

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." 

The above is the Oath of Enlistment that I affirmed when I joined the U.S. Navy back in 1984. 

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The above is the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The same Constitution that I swore to support and defend.

Recently, groups of white supremacists, Nazis, and those who stand against white supremacists and Nazis, have held marches and protests. Now, as a person who stands for the rights expressed in the U.S. Constitution, I want to say that I support the RIGHT for those to speak their minds. That does NOT mean that I agree with or support their views. It means that I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. 

As a refresher, the First Amendment does not establish the rights of the people, but states the limitations of the government ("Congress shall make no law..."). 

According to the First Amendment, Congress shall make no law that would prohibit the right of the people to peaceably assemble. 

PEACEABLY assemble.

When an assembly of people turn violent they no longer have the right to assemble. That does not mean that if you are being violent AS a "hate group" or being violent AGAINST a "hate group", YOU are in the wrong. 

When you peaceably assemble you CANNOT throw stones, bricks, or punches. You CANNOT destroy public or private property (which includes statues and monuments - there are civil and legal ways to remove them). In other words, you have the right to assemble in a non-violent way. 

You may hate white supremacists and Nazis. That is your right. And, as a white supremacist and/or Nazis you may hate those who protest against you. But NEITHER group has the right to cause harm to the other. At that point you fall dangerously close to being a domestic enemy - and there is a large number of folks who swore to support and defend the Constitution against you.

Remember: You have the right to assemble peaceably and you have the right to speak freely. You do NOT have the right to be heard. 

© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What’s Mine is Mine & What’s Yours is Mine

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I spent a lot of time enjoying the National Parks in the state of Utah while on vacation. Normally when we are on drives, we listen to a playlist of podcasts consisting of old and current episodes of Coverville, East Meets West, and Cracked. This gives us a nice variety.


Being that we were gone for more than two weeks, many of the podcasts we listen to on our own were piling up. Being rather anal myself, I listen to all of my podcasts in the order they come out, and do not miss an episode. As for my wife, she listens to hers as to whatever is current, and listens to older ones if she has time. So, in order to give us a bit of variety, my wife suggested we listen to some of the podcasts from my queue (No guys, you can’t have her. She’s all mine!).


One of the episodes we listened to was from the Cato Daily Podcast. Now, Cato is a libertarian (small “L”) think tank that covers a variety of topics with informative discussions. Or, as the site describes it, "The Cato Daily Podcast allows Cato Institute scholars and other commenters to discuss relevant news and libertarian thought in a conversational, informal manner." (Yeah, that's better.)


The episode that got my attention was called, “A Weak Defense of Property Rights at the Supreme Court” and is described as, “The Supreme Court’s Murr decision may leave many future property owners in the lurch when local and state governments decide to change laws governing property.” I’ve provided a link so that you can listen to it: https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/weak-defense-property-rights-supreme-court


Before your eyes glaze over and you stop reading, let me remind you of the title of this particular blog post: “What’s Mine is Mine & What’s Yours is Mine”.


In all of the different articles I’ve read and all of the podcasts I’ve listened to on the subject of property, not one has looked at it from this perspective: According to those in government, “What’s Mine is Mine & What’s Yours is Mine”.


According to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Do you see what it does NOT say? “...that among these are Life, Liberty, and Property.”


According to the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, October 1774:


“That the inhabitants of the English Colonies in North America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principles of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following Rights:

1. That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent.”


On July 4, 1776 (almost two years after the above), Congress approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence (which was not signed until August 2, 1776).


Somewhere between October 1774 and July 1776, the clearly lifted phrase changed “property” to “the pursuit of Happiness”. Why?


There is much speculation from different historians, but what is clearly evident, is that those who set up our government did not consider property (outside of their own - most were wealthy land owners) to be a right of the people.


In other words, in the eyes of the government, you do not own anything. They do.


“Wait there, J.P., I own my house.”


Do you? First off, most don’t “own” their house. They have a long-term rental agreement with a bank. But even if you have paid off your mortgage in full, you do NOT own your home. You want proof? Stop paying your property taxes - or your income taxes. They will TAKE it from you. You pay the government “rent” (via taxes) in order to live in that home. You stop paying your rent, they will evict you and take it from you.


“Okay, maybe my home. But I own my car.”


Really? If you don’t purchase a license plate (or tags), or in many states, don’t have car insurance, you cannot drive the vehicle. And most cities have ordinances that state that you cannot have a vehicle that cannot be moved sitting on your property over a certain period of time. If so, it can be taken from you. So, as far as it being a vehicle of transportation that you own, without said taxes and fees paid, you do not have a vehicle of transportation. You pay for the right to have it.


“Okay, what about my X-Box? I own that, don’t I?”


Well, you have to consider the following proverb: What you own can be used to pay what you owe. If you stop paying “rent” (a.k.a “taxes”), the government can take what you own to pay what you owe. That includes your X-Box.


Even in death you can’t “take it with you”. Not because you can’t drive a U-Haul to heaven (because you can't), but because the government has a right to tax what you own. This is called an estate tax and is simply defined as a tax levied on the net value of the estate of a deceased person before distribution to the heirs.


Not only did you pay taxes when you made money. Not only did you pay taxes when you bought something with that money. You have to pay taxes AGAIN on the net value of what you have when you die before your kids have any right to it.


Why? Because, in the government's eyes, you DON’T OWN ANYTHING. It all belongs to them anyway.
Even the interest you earn can be subject to taxation.


So, when you hear a politician say that a tax cut would be taking income from the government, you’ll understand that they think that a perfectly reasonable conclusion.


But don’t worry. You have the right to pursue happiness. As long as it does not include property ownership.




© Emittravel 2017

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

The last time I posted a blog was 20170619. That’s pretty shameful for a guy who writes for the purpose of keeping stress headaches at bay. But, like you, I’ve found that summer gets in the way and before you know it, seven weeks have gone by.

So, in honor of every third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grader who has to write a “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” report, I thought I’d fill in the gaps over this past seven weeks.

(If you read this blog for the political/religious brain dumps, come back next week. I promise to load your bucket!)

At the end of June my wife and I took an early morning flight out of Cleveland to Salt Lake City. The first part of our trip was a weekend at the Snowbird Resort for the annual (and perhaps final) Nerdtacular event.

View from the Cliff Lodge
Nerdtacular is a sort of miniature Comic Con, though it seems more like a family reunion. It’s made up of podcasters, gamers, cosplayers, artists, musicians, and general craziness. We had attended it back in 2014 and planned to go every other year. With 2016 being the 10th anniversary of Nerdtacular, the folks who run it (the same podcasters, gamers, cosplayers, artists, and musicians) decided to skip a year to make it a really big event. Check out the link for pictures, a much better description, and videos of some of the events (but come back to finish reading!): http://frogpants.com/nerdtacular


(If you check out the Live FilmSack video at around the 18:45 mark, they mention someone bringing the Blu-Ray version of the movie to the event. That person was ME!)

A picture of me and Scott Johnson, the chief nerd
The event ran from Thursday (an informal meet and greet) through the end of Saturday. When we were here in 2014 we stayed for an extra week at the Snowbird Resort and did day trips from there. This time we checked out of the hotel and drove to Cedar Creek, Utah for the second leg of our vacation.

Our intention was to visit the major National Parks in Utah. So, with our stay in Cedar Creek, we made trips to Cedar Breaks National Monument, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon.

Cedar Breaks National Monument
Kolob Canyons
Zion National Park
Bryce Canyon
Next we drove over to Green River, Utah, in order to visit Arches National Park, Canyonland National Park (which I kept calling “CandyLand” by mistake. Honest!), and Capitol Reef.

Arches National Park
Canyonland National Park
Capitol Reef
The photos above aren’t even a glimmer into the beauty that these parks contain. Absolutely breathtaking. You gotta add it to your “bucket list” and then go check it off!

After a bunch of days hiking around in 100+ degree temperatures (it’s okay, “It’s a dry heat”), we made our way to Sandy, Utah for the last leg of our trip.

Not only did we celebrate our eleventh wedding anniversary with a delicious dinner while there, we also spent an evening watching the Salt Lake City Bees (the Triple A minor league team for the Los Angeles Angels) play some baseball.

Me and my better half
We arrived back in Cleveland just after midnight on 20170718. The parking pass stated our car was there for 18 days and a little over 21 hours. A nice, long vacation.

The very next Sunday we got tickets to go see the Cleveland Indians play, so . . . you know . . . that was a no-brainer!


I almost forgot: I also brought home a souvenir from our trip. At first I thought my allergies were acting up, but allergy medicines didn’t relieve it. Then I thought it was turning into a cold, but cold medicines didn’t relieve it. After missing work, I went and got a Z-pack (antibiotics) which killed whatever it was I brought home. I prefer the National Park t-shirts we got instead.

Then last weekend my wife and I got to go to Toledo with some good friends to enjoy a Toledo Mudhens ballgame (Triple A minor league team for the Detroit Tigers) and a day at the Toledo Zoo.

We love our baseball!
Finally, the company I work for had its company picnic at Canal Park in Akron to watch an Akron RubberDucks ballgame (Double A minor league team for the Cleveland Indians).


And that’s about it. My summer vacation. I know, it’s only the beginning of August still, but when it comes to time off from writing, it’s over.

See you in the dugout!

©Emittravel 2017